Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tyranid Tactics: Swarmlord

(photo credit to Eldar Addict) Old School here with a tactical article for the Swarmlord.
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Having covered Hive Tyrants so thoroughly, it is only natural to follow up with a post concerning the Swarmlord. Now Swarmlord is the stuff of legend and rightfully takes up the position in the Nid codex that Abbadon takes in the Chaos Codex and aside from making 13 year olds squeal in adoration, he hasn’t gotten a whole lot of love from the tactical articles I have seen on the web. I think he has his place on the battlefield and can be competitive, so let’s talk about Swarmlord’s Strengths, Weaknesses and tactical application.
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Uber Tyrant or Jack of All Trades?: Swarmlord’s Statline is that of a regular Hive Tyrant with a few exceptions; He is Weapon Skill 9, meaning he will hit on three against anything other than the very nastiest MCs in 40k (Bloodthirster comes to mind), He is Initiative 6, which is nice to have because he becomes I7 if he gives his unit Furious Charge and he has 5 wounds, another nice touch considering he is rocking a 3+. The 3+ doesn’t mean much with all the Missile Launchers out there these days, but a little synergy with other units and the application of guard can make you much more survivable. Get him in combat and he gets his 4+ and his guard retinue to back him – he will roll through nearly any hammer unit at that point (see tactics below).
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Aside from that, he has the ability to give out Acute Senses, Furious Charge and Preferred Enemy to friendly units and while it isn’t the same as giving a 6” bubble of Preferred Enemy, it still can be tactically beneficial.
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Swarmlord also has a sort of Hive Commander ability where he still confers +1 to the reserve rolls, but instead of allowing a unit to outflank, he allows outflankers to re-roll their table edge result – not a bad exchange and when you consider that his reserve roll bonus is also stackable with a normal Hive Tyrant with Hive Commander.
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Finally, Swarmlord has Psychic Monstrosity, which gives him the 18” synapse bubble he needs to build his assault spearhead around. Having access to all the Tyrant Psychic powers is nice, but we all know you only need paroxysm and leech essence.
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Tactical Application: Unlike the mass synergy, support guru that the Hive Tyrant is, the Swarmlord is all about himself and what he can do – Being a foot tyrant with only assault capabilities, it shouldn’t be surprising. First off, I would say that Swarmlord fits awkwardly in any list smaller than 1850. AT 1850, if you want to run him, you need to understand that your list is built to support him and his uber death squad – period. You also need to understand that he needs tyrant guard and that you need to stop worrying about individual unit points-cost and go with what makes your list killy that fits into 1850. With that being said, let’s talk shop on putting him to use on the field.
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Here is a basic block to start an army around the Swarmlord:
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Swarmlord with 2x Tyrant Guard armed with Bone Swords (430)
Tyranid Prime with bonesword, lash whip and scything talons (95)
Tervigon with Catalyst (175)

(Here is your basic Assault spearhead team for the Swarmlord. This gives you 13 powered attacks on the charge from the Swarmlord and his Guard, another 5 when joined by the IC Prime – plus the enemy’s best models should be lash whipped by being base to base with the Prime and if you screened yourself right, the enemy should be subject to paroxysm. The tervigon trails you casting catalyst and if need be, can throw its MC attacks into the mix. When you consider the fact that Swarmlord can also give the unit preferred enemy or Furious Charge, you can start to see where this is heading – even the best assault units once nerfed and lashed and charged will struggle to survive more than one turn of this abuse … now let’s talk about the rest of the list)
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With 700 points left, we can go with a more shooty army that pops or at least shakes vehicles for the death star unit – or we can go all-in assault and really mess up target priority for the enemy and completely overload his ability to deal with assault.
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Shooty: Add the following units to the list above –
2 Hive Guard – 100
2 Hive Guard – 100
1 Harpy with Twin-Linked Venom Cannon (170)
1 Harpy with Twin-Linked Venom Cannon (170)
10 Genestealers (140)
10 Genestealers (140)
10 Termagaunts (50)
10 Termagaunts (50)
Tervigon with Catalyst (175)
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Alright, this added to the 700 points above, would leave you at 1795 (I am not going to write your whole list for you!) and it gives you two troop tervigons running up along Swarmlord, capable of providing catalyst support or spitting out screening units, two squads of hive guard for shaking tanks and popping transports, two harpies capable of assisting in assaults, screening the death star unit and messing up the enemies tank game at least a little – the side benefit to the harpies is that they will draw away big guns. The gaunts just make the tervis troops and the stealers can be run several ways;

1) Standard outflank, capitalizing on Swarmlord’s outflanking and reserve roll benefits. This will make them likely to come in and pop rear armor with rending and make a distraction for enemy fire. If not that, then it will force the enemy deployment into your favor.

2) They can run behind all the monstrous creatures and provide a second wave CC to get the Swarmlord’s unit out of any potential prolonged combats or they could jump ahead to block a likely assault to allow swarmlord to get the charge.
Now this list is simple and spammy, but it illustrates the potential synergy of units prone to support and units prone to shooting and how they can work together.
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Now for the All-out Assault list: This list can run up the board or, if need be, take advantage of swarmlord’s army-wide gifts:
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(the 700 point Swarmlord block above)
Trygon (200)
Trygon (200)
Trygon (200)
10 Genestealers (140)
10 Genestealers (140)
Tervigon with catalyst (175)
19 Termagaunts (95)
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Alright, The assualty list is another simple spam list I drew up just to illustrate the point. You have multiple deployment options in this list by which to mess with the enemy, but generally, you can scuttle across the board behind the trygon screen. The trygons will run straight toward enemy lines and swarmlord and his entourage should be running right behind them. If you want some adrenaline glands for at least two of the trygons, buy them and take the points from the large gaunt unit (I designed them as the extra points fund anyway.) Their main point is to make the one tervigon a troop choice and in objective missions it can stay home with the big gaunt squad and make babies. In KP missions, it can add to the spearhead or if situation dictates, you have some tactical flexibility.
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Honestly, these lists aren’t going to make you a ton of friends casually, but in a take-all-comers environment, they can be a good starting point for bringing the swarmlord out. I would prefer a regular tyrant with wings, but Swarmlord can be fun, choppy and a challenge for you to try to run. Please don’t hammer me over the lists as I am not selling these as the lists you must run, but as an idea of how certain elements can work together to create synergy on the battlefield. I encourage you to try many variations and see what fits your tastes. Which leaves me one more talking point …
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The 2+ reserves list: The 2+ reserve list is an army that includes Swarmlord and a Hive Commander Tyrant. This can be extremely pricey, but it can also be pretty effective. The idea is to pack your list with creatures that come in reserves like stealers, trygons, harpies, podding troops ect to create a “shock and awe” scenario. Back before the FAQ, I tried this a few times with a walking tyrant and a winged one and while it can be expensive, it worked out well, but it was also a one trick pony in that it had a hard time working in any other way than pure reserves (no real table walking) and if the points are less than 2000, it feels even more restrictive. Also anyone who has experience fighting pure drop lists knows how to counter it via deployment and their own reserves. I would say try it out, but don’t bank on a one-trick list when this codex is capable of so much more.
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That’s my two cents on the Swarmlord, feedback is always welcome.

4 comments:

  1. Love your tactics posts. Very comprehensive. I am excited to try my Flyrant and Swarmlord in battles. I have been on the receiving end of the swarmlord before, and know that he is a monster in close combat. I think a 2k army with swarmlord, flyrant, 3 trygons, tervigon, termigants and genestealers would be fun to run, difficult to deal with.
    I think the best counter to the swarmlord would be obviously to shoot him into oblivion, but I would like to see 15 blood claws, wolf priest and arjac vs the swarmlord and retinue.

    I must say,

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  2. I must say, I was surprised to see my Swarmlord on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, I did re-post your article here because the Shrinky Dinks are a great idea for making small, detailed peices in large scale. I am glad you like the tactics, I was honestly scared they were a little too comprehensive.
    Shooting is the best way to counter the swarm lord. That is why he NEEDS screening and FNP and distraction units .. trouble is that people freak out about him like they about abbadon and go straight for him.

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